A SELFLESS woman who was diagnosed with head and neck cancer when a mouth ulcer would not go away is determined her battle will help others.

Marie Campbell, known as Ali, is urging people to ‘sponsor’ her through six weeks of radiotherapy and will donate all funds to Dorset Cancer Care Foundation (DCCF.)

The 51-year-old crochet designer, teacher and blogger said: “I don’t have the strength or the ability to run a marathon due to my current situation but I will be running a marathon of sorts in the next few months, so I thought why not take the opportunity to raise some money for this great charity?”

Ali, from Shillingstone, is self-employed and unable to work at the time of surgery however DCCF saved her ‘financial life’ by sending her money to repair her car and pay for her petrol to and from the hospital.

“They also enabled me to buy some expensive silicone gel to use on my neck scar and they help other cancer patients by paying their bills, their mortgages, or sending them on much needed breaks, when they really need it most,” she explained.

“I’m just glad my radiotherapy, or ‘Radio Gaga’ as I’m calling it, can help a few more people who are going through cancer like me.”

Ali went to see her doctor in March when a mouth ulcer refused to heal. The doctor was not happy with the wound and she was referred to the Maxillofacial unit at Dorset County Hospital.

Within two weeks a biopsy revealed she had head and neck cancer and she required immediate surgery.

She said: “I remember standing outside the consulting room waiting to meet my Macmillan nurse. I looked at my husband Ian, he had tears in his eyes, which made me do the same but I wasn’t going to let cancer beat me or him for that matter so there and then my positive mental attitude set in.

“It took two teams of surgeons 12-and-a-half hours to work on me and I was in a medically induced coma for four days.

“After cutting away the cancer they took flesh and bone from my left shoulder and reconstructed the top left of my mouths.”

Six weeks later she was told the cancer had ‘kissed’ her bone and she would need to undergo radiotherapy at Poole Hospital.

It was at that time she found DCCF on the internet and she was determined to help the group.

Ali has so far raised more than £1100 and is positive about her future.

She explained: “I have gone a few steps backwards in my recovery since the zapping has started with mouth sores, ulcers and ‘sunburn’ on my face, but that’s a small price to pay."

Ali will have a follow-up appointment six weeks after the end of treatment and is determined to raise awareness of more uncommon cancers.

Incredibly, cancer isn’t the only battle Ali has had to overcome. In 2004 she suffered severe nerve damage to her right ankle when she was forced to flee the tsunami in Phuket, Thailand, whilst on honeymoon.

Four operations later the ankle is still damaged and both Ali and Ian will never forget that day, or the aftermath.

Anne Rowland, fundraising trustee at Dorset Cancer Care Foundation, said: “I think, like most people, I was a little taken aback and emotional when I found out what Ali is doing for DCCF.

“To be able to face such a mammoth operation and long treatment - and still have to the time to think about others – is nothing short of heroic.”

“Her bravery and thoughtfulness will help many other people facing cancer here in Dorset.”

To sponsor Ali go to justgiving.com/fundraising/radiogagachallenge

Ali has also designed and written a pattern for DCCF, a crochet heart pin that can be sold to raise funds for the charity. To crochet Ali’s heart for DCCF go to gethookedoncrochet.co.uk/crochetforcancer/